Oklahoma softball squad hopes flu bug has bugged out

TORONTO, ON - JULY 26: Joey Lye
TORONTO, ON - JULY 26: Joey Lye /

After winning its first five games, the Oklahoma softball team ran into a mean-spirited opponent that is hard to fight off.

Half of the team came down with flu symptoms as OU was getting ready to head to New Mexico for a second consecutive weekend of early season tournament play. In addition to battling health issues, Patty Gasso’s reigning national champions were forced to negotiate an ice storm that threatened to alter their departure plans.

As it turned out, the weather wasn’t so good where they were headed either. Cold and wet weather cancelled Friday’s planned doubleheader, giving the ailing Sooners another day of rest and recovery.

When OU was finally able to take the field on Saturday, it wasn’t so much the flu that knocked them down as three costly errors. A pair of errors in the sixth inning led to two Boston University runs that erased a one-run OU advantage and handed the Sooners their first loss of the 2018 season.

The Sooners fought back in their second game of the day, defeating host New Mexico State 2-0 on a two-hit shutout by pitching ace Paige Parker, who earned her fourth win of the season without a loss.

More from OU softball

That one stumble at the Troy Cox Classic in New Mexico knocked Oklahoma out of the top spot in the ESPN/USA Softball national rankings. The Sooners dropped down to No. 5 this week, and Gasso believes that might just be a blessing in disguise.

“Getting knocked out of first place is probably the best thing that could have happened to this group,” the Sooners’ head coach said this week to Brooke Pryor, OU beat writer for the Oklahoma City Oklahoman.

“I think we’re responsive when we’re kind of coming from behind versus standing at the top of the hill.”

OU is hoping it has overcome its battle with the flu because the Sooners are out west again this weekend, playing for the 13th consecutive year in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, California.

The Sooners kicked off the five games they will play this weekend with a 7-2 victory over Arizona State on Thursday, followed by a 3-3 tie in an exhibition game with Team Japan. Oklahoma, now 7-1 on the season, will play Brigham Young on Friday, and rap up the weekend tournament with games against North Carolina and 13th-ranked Arizona on Saturday.

Next: All-Time Oklahoma men's basketball team

Florida, runner-up to the Sooners in last season’s Women’s College World Series, has replaced Oklahoma in the top spot in this week’s ESPN/USA Softball poll. The Gators are followed by Oregon, Washington and UCLA.